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What happens if a patients requiring emergency transfer outside office hours?

Whenever a patient needs to be transferred to UK for emergency treatment outside office hours, the Consultant concerned will contact the Treatment Abroad Manager who will then contact the Chairperson and Committee members to obtain urgent approval. Patients are transferred to UK within 24 hours or less.
What happens once that the referral is approved?
The Treatment Abroad Section which is based at Mater Dei Hospital, 1st Floor, Main Foyer, is informed about all the cases that have been discussed and approved during the Committee meeting. These members of staff are responsible for the logistical arrangements for patients that will be travelling to UK for treatment. These arrangements mainly include:
  • Contact is made with UK hospitals to obtain appointments for patients.
  • An appointment is made with the patients and/or their relatives to explain the policies and procedures.
  • Travel and accommodation arrangements are made.
  • Contact with the Malta High Commission is made to inform them of patients that will be travelling to UK so that the necessary transport and accommodation bookings for patients in UK are made.
  • Continuous liaison with UK hospitals through the Malta High Commission to obtain updates on patients and their requirements.
  • Records of follow ups and further visits for patients are kept.
Do patients have to pay for any treatment?
If the proper procedure for referral has been followed and approval by the Treatment Abroad Committee was granted the patient is not required to pay for treatment.
If patients whilst in UK are informed that they are being administered treatment different from that they had been referred for, they must inform the Malta High Commission immediately, as approval must be sought to cover any additional costs that this treatment will bring about. Any treatment which forms part of Malta’s formulary list will be covered by the Ministry for Energy and Health (MEH). Additionally approval on a named patient basis for exceptional treatment may also be granted in line with the exception treatment policy.
If patients opt to by-pass the system and go abroad on their own initiative and opt to go for treatment privately without prior authorization, requests for refunds of costs will not be entertained.
What other benefits are patients entitled to?
Air Tickets
When a patient is approved for treatment in the UK, he/she may choose to submit to a voluntary means test under oath at the Social Security Department. The means test is used to assess whether the patient qualifies for free air ticket. Patients are generally issued open tickets as the return date from the UK is very often unknown. Patients may opt to make their own flight arrangements and ask for refund if they qualify for free tickets. If a patient does not qualify for free air tickets but has to travel in as a stretcher case, the additional costs for the stretcher are borne by the MEH. If a patient needs to travel accompanied by a nurse or doctor, the escort expenses of the medical team are all covered by the MEH. In the rare circumstances when patients would have to travel by an air ambulance, the air ambulance fees are also covered by the MEH.
Patients under the age of 18years automatically qualify for free air tickets. Additionally the travel costs of two parents or legal guardians are also financed by the National Health Service. 
The MEH has agreements with the Franciscan Sisters in London and Puttinu Cares Foundation who offer accommodation services to patients receiving treatment. Payment to these institutions is made by the MEH. The Sisters’ accommodation is based in Victoria, London and is easily accessible to hospitals based in London. The apartments owned by Puttinu Cares Foundation are based in Surrey and these are generally used by patients receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, Surrey. In cases where patients are receiving treatment outside London, accommodation arrangements are carried out by the Malta High Commission.
Accommodation arrangements are as far as possible made in lodging closest to the hospitals where the patients are receiving treatment. The patients are free to make their own accommodation arrangements and are eligible for capped refund on presentation of original receipts. The refund is equivalent to what would have been paid had the patient stayed in the accommodation provided either by the Sisters or by Puttinu, depending which would be the closest. If accommodation is available in the vicinity of the hospital but patients opt to stay in lodging which is very far, the department is not bound to provide transport between lodging and hospitals.
Patients receiving treatment in UK are provided with transport from and to airports and to attend for hospital appointments. Up to two accompanying persons can travel in the same car with the patient if space permits. Patients may choose to make their own travel arrangements and ask for reimbursement upon presentation of original receipts. The reimbursement would be according to the approved transport rates.
What happens if patients find it hard to communicate in English?
The Treatment Abroad Office through the Office at the Malta High Commission in London will seek to provide assistance as much as possible. Where possible the Franciscan Friars will provide assistance however their primary focus is to s offer pastoral and counselling services to all patients and relatives.
What is the role of the Malta High Commission?
A person within the Malta High Commission has been assigned to coordinate and facilitate visits of Maltese patients receiving treatment in UK. The Malta High Commission keeps daily contact with patients in UK and report back to the Treatment Abroad Office with updates on patients. The Malta High Commission is also responsible to book necessary transport for patients and coordinate any requirements that patients may need during their stay in UK including accommodation and flight bookings on the return journey.
The Malta High Commission serves as a liaison between Malta and the UK Hospitals and endeavors to obtain appointments for patients as urgently as possible. Furthermore the Malta High Commission follows up reports on patients and ensures that the MEH receives regular and timely updates on patients.